Every year in early December, the Wisconsin Women of Color Network (WWOCN) hosts one of its signature events, the WWOCN Scholarship Fundraiser, a full day of holiday fun and sisterhood where women from all walks of life come together and raise money for scholarships to help women of color achieve their highest potential. This year’s event will be held at the Double Tree hotel in downtown Madison on Saturday, Dec. 4, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
“What I really love about this event is that women of color from different groups … different ethnic groups … get together and share our life experiences,” WWOCN President Nelia Olivencia tells Madison365. “It’s wonderful to see what we’ve all had to overcome in different spaces. I’m thinking of Native Americans, African Americans, Latinas, Asian Americans, all of us.
Established in 1980, the Wisconsin Women of Color Network, Inc. is a Madison-area organization that assists women of color in “accessing educational resources, health care, social services, and political participation as it promotes leadership, cross-cultural awareness, and spiritual and economic well-being to enrich the lives of women of color, their families and their communities.”
“This is an event that we host every year around Christmas. We have a silent auction and we have vendors that sell things and we have a great program and a brunch,” says Olivencia “The reason that we do all of this is to raise money for scholarships for young women of color who are graduating from high school and pursuing higher education.”
The event raises money for the WWOCN Scholarship Fund, an umbrella for several specific awards given each year with the goal of assisting women in their pursuit of education, employment and economic independence. Each year WWOCN awards the Mabel Smith Memorial Scholarship to a student pursuing a two-year technical/occupational skills or industry-related degree; the Cammer-Hill Grant to assist students with expenses not generally covered by other scholarships; and the Future Leaders Fund to enable middle and high school students to participate in educational opportunities that focus on the development of individual skills in communication, fellowship and leadership. They also award the Hattie J. Hilliard Award for students interested in pursuing a career in art.
This year, the event will feature the “Everybody Loves Hot Chocolate and Conversation” with community leaders Carola Gaines, Margie Bruce, Stephanie Freaner, Angelica Camara, Antoinette Neal, and Charlie Daniel.
“This is a group of incredible women with diverse life experiences including one of the founding members of WWOCN, Charlie Daniel,” Olivencia says.
The WWOCN Annual Scholarship Fundraiser is also a chance for entrepreneurs and vendors (mostly women of color) to sell a variety of arts and crafts such as ceramics, clothing, fabrics, purses, jewelry, small household items, and other accessories including cosmetics.
“It’s a great way to kick off your holiday shopping and it’s for a great cause,” Olivencia says.
Once again, the WWOCN Scholarship Fundraiser will have its “Holiday Sing-Along” that includes traditional holiday songs from various diverse cultures.
“There is so much fun stuff going on throughout the event but in the end, it is a fundraiser for scholarships,” Olivencia says. “The winners of the scholarships will be recognized by WWOCN next spring.”
The Wisconsin Women of Color Network, Inc. will host its annual scholarship fundraising event on Saturday, Dec. 4, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.. at the DoubleTree Hotel, 525 W. Johnson St., in Madison. Admission is free to do your shopping and to bid on items for the silent auction. Reservations are required for the Grand Breakfast Brunch. Cost: $45 for adults, $12.50 for children 8-12 years old.